Charlotte, North Carolina – A panel of lawmakers set up to analyze the immigration issue in North Carolina recommended on Thursday not approving laws to combat undocumented foreigners.
The seven Republicans and five Democrats of the House Select Committee on the State's Role in Immigration Policy urged the incoming General Assembly to approve a resolution demanding that Washington better control the borders.
They also asked North Carolina's congressional delegation to adopt a position of leadership that promote reviewing federal immigration laws as well as measures giving states greater powers to enforce existing legislation.
At the same time, the panel acknowledged that "North Carolina has derived strength and prosperity from legal immigration, and ... legal immigrants continue to make vital contributions to the state.
While North Carolina lawmakers have not passed harsh anti-immigration measures like those enacted in Arizona and South Carolina, Hispanic leaders in the Tar Heel state said they will not let down their guard.
"This committee was a waste of time and of the money of North Carolina taxpayers to ratify that the power in immigration matters rests with the federal government," John Herrera, a former councilor for the city of Carrboro, in the northern part of the state, told Efe on Thursday.
According to Herrera, the committee was only formed to placate conservative groups that were seeking concrete resolutions to make life impossible for undocumented people.
However, pro-immigrant organizations like We Are NC and NC Dream Team formed a common front to counteract possible political maneuvers against immigrants.
Mauricio Castro, the leader of the North Carolina Latino Coalition, said that pressure exerted "under the table" by industries that depend on Hispanic labor was essential to stop the committee from recommending anti-immigrant measures.
"For now, they've left us calm, and they took note that they depend a lot on the immigrants for the work they do," he said.
Latino groups are anxious about possible legislation since the General Assembly is going to be controlled again by the Republicans and also a new GOP governor, former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCroy, was elected and his views on immigration remain a question mark.